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Canadians Tessa Virtue, left, and Scott Moir won both Olympic and world championships last season. ((Antonio Calanni/Associated Press))

Olympic and world ice dance champion Tessa Virtue will be sidelined for the start of the figure skating season.

Virtue underwent surgery on her shins and calves last week in her hometown of London, Ont.

Virtue, 21, had the procedure to reduce the lingering pain that has been diagnosed as chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS).

She had a similar operation in the fall of 2008. Virtue and partner Scott Moir missed most of that season, and plan on using this time to prepare for the world championships in Tokyo in 2011.

Skate Canada's chief medical officer, Dr. Marni Wesner, assessed Virtue's ailment during the national team's high performance camp in September.

Further tests revealed increased pressure levels in her calves and shins as a result of CECS.

Virtue and Moir planned on delaying the surgery until after the 2010-11 season. However, because of the discomfort Virtue was experiencing, the decision was made to have the surgery now.

As in 2008, Dr. Kevin Willits performed Virtue's most recent surgery.

'Enormous relief'

"It's an enormous relief to have a solution to the pain," said Virtue. "Apparently the surgery went really well and I am confident that I have the most competent support team to help me with my recovery. I am excited to get back on the ice as soon as I can and look forward to training and competing pain-free!"

Moir, who was with Virtue for her surgery, will travel back to Michigan to resume his training.

"We have two awesome routines this year, and I've got lots of work to do to be ready for our return to competition," he said.

"In the bigger picture, this is a minor setback, and we're excited at the prospect of Tessa being able to skate pain-free going forward," he said.

"It also shows just how strong Tessa was last year, and it was really amazing that she could shut out the pain and together we were able to achieve our dream of being Olympic champions."